This series of free-motion embroidered botanical drawings commemorates and provides a contemporary perspective on the Vienna Dioscorides, an early 6th century Byzantine illuminated manuscript, containing the ancient pharmacological text, De Materia Medica, by Dioscorides.
My work explores my interest in plants, their relationship to our health, and the importance of diversity in food production; especially genetically diverse plants and crops. My intricate drawings reflect on the complexities found in the natural world and the essential qualities each contributes to the whole, echoing the importance of diversity in maintaining, not only individual health, but the health of communities and ecosystems.
Research into the historical role of plants’ medicinal and nutritional properties, brought me to the fountainhead of herbals; the Greek pharmacopeia written by Dioscorides in c. 65 AD. Dioscorides text was considered the authority on medicinal plants for over 1500 years. The Vienna Dioscorides (512 AD) contains the oldest surviving complete manuscript of Dioscorides’ pharmacopeia.
Several of the nearly 400 uniquely animated plant paintings depicted in the Vienna Dioscorides are still known to us today. These plants create a connection to this ancient text, linking past to present. These paintings are the inspiration for my free-motion embroidered drawings. Stitched on translucent organza, and floated away from the wall, the drawings create a cast shadow. Both images subtly moving as the fabric shifts.
I seek to keep their original playful spirit alive by relating their incredible structures through line, tone, and shadow while contemplating the benefits, beauty, and richness found within diverse communities.